A Quinta



No artist or artisan ever has such broad control of the medium through which he expresses his own character and personality as does the farmer or grazier in the control he can exercise over his land. The landman can create his own landscape, but the artist gives only his impression of it …
— PA Yeomans

Yeomans Keyline methods enable the rapid development of deep biologically fertile soil by converting subsoil into living topsoil. Keyline pattern cultivation enables the rapid flood irrigation of undulating land without terracing. Incidental results are the healing of soil erosion, bio-adsorption of salinity and the long term storage of atmospheric carbon in the soil as humus.

Keyline farm planning is a management tool that uses natural landscape contours and farming techniques to slow, sink, spread and store rainwater as well as build soil fertility. With a detailed contour map of your farm, keyline planning can help determine the optimal placement for farm elements such as: irrigation ponds, cropping & orchard rows, structures, roads/tracks, fences, livestock rotation, subsoil rip lines, and more. 

Keyline plowing uses a subsoil plow method with a very flat plow shank (about 8%) to slice through the soil and create channels below the surface. These channels help break up soil compaction, create a place for new roots to grow with less effort and direct water more easily.

    David Holmgren demonstrating how keyline works (source: Instagram)

    David Holmgren demonstrating how keyline works (source: Instagram)

Keyline is a 'Land planning system' with the main focus being on the control of water resources. Observing where it is, capturing it, holding it, cycling it through as many systems as possible before allowing it to leave.

Keyline is built around the Keyline scale of permanence and as a design process focuses on two main features of a landscape KEYPOINT and KEYLINE. From these a pattern is formed to assist in the equal distribution of water across the landscape known as KEYLINE PATTERNING.

KEYPOINT - a location called the keypoint can be found where the lower and flatter portion of a primary valley floor suddenly steepens.

KEYLINE - The keyline of this primary valley is revealed by pegging a contour line through the keypoint, within the valley shape. All the points on the line are at the same elevation as the keypoint.

KEYLINE PATTERNING - allows the farmer to harmonize with the landform while maintaining parallel cultivation rows.

KEYLINE SCALE OF PERMANENCE - The backbone of Yeomans' keyline design system, the outcome of fifteen years of adaptive experimentation, is Yeomans' Keyline Scale of Permanence (KSOP), which identifies typical farms' elements ordered according to their degree of permanence: Climate, Landscape, Water Supply, Roads/Access, Trees, Structures, Subdivision Fences and Soil.
Keyline considers these elements when planning the placement of water storage, roads, trees, buildings and fences. 

 Keyline plan of a section of A Quinta - phase 1

 Keyline plan of a section of A Quinta - phase 1

The water lines identified from the land-form subsequently provide optimal locations for the various less permanent elements (roads, fences, trees, and buildings) to optimize the natural potential of the landscape.

The amount of water available to any site is dependent only  on the relationship between the climate and the land shape. This relationship is optimized by keyline deisgn through clever observation of where water moves across the land, it is then possible to capture it, hold it and distribute evenly across the landscape.

©2016 A Quinta